Flemming Bo Jensen is a friend and someone who I’ve featured here on Shifter many, many times. He sleeps his way through Machu Picchu, he can quote any Star Wars scene you choose, and he speaks a strange language that I’m ninety percent sure is fake. And he has David Bowie hair. He is also a photographer who works with a variety of groups, brands and organizations including Red Bull and Fujifilm. But when I think about Flemming, more than anything else, I think about music. Music is his life. Photography is simply a bridge that allows him the access and time to engage with those who play. As you will see in this film, his preferred existence would be as a musician, as someone who lives on stage, but that may or may not ever be in the cards. What is in the cards is being there to capture the essence with his camera.
Brands can’t help themselves. Most of the time, brands do what they have already seen. They play it safe. They play the numbers. Butts in seats. Social following. All the while they watch as the soul of their brand slowly trickles out. The truly pioneering brands takes chances and change the world, but these brands are few and far between. In terms of brands, I would put Fuji in the middle. They both play it safe, the majority of what I see, and then sometimes they play near the edges of the field. Often times, the edgier stuff is subtle, mostly conveyed via the script, by what is being said more than what is being seen. I get it. One foot in the world of playing it safe, and one foot in the “we want to get a different message out.”
I like this film. I like the script, and I like what Flemming is saying. Yes, yes, you know you are going to hear “The XT5 is…….X.” That’s a given, but that expected story doesn’t overwhelm the process and purpose behind what Flemming does and why he does it. The imagery is what matters. I love his take on “images make themselves timed to the beat.” Almost as if a trance state is where things happen. In sync with the sensory experience. I’ve seen a fair amount of Flemming’s music work and there are some truly stellar images that will only become more and more important as these bands rise or fall from prominence.
Historically, photography surrounding the music industry has been some of the most valuable and sought after of any genre. Now, something I find hilarious is that I hardly ever know any of the bands that Flemming shoots. Literally never heard of them. But when I see his imagery it makes me want to go and see for myself. I want to see those crazy, Danish, deep house, dub, ambient young people and experience what they are experiencing. The crowd is a huge part of this work, at least it is for me.
The last thing I’ll mention is love. Flemming doesn’t do this work for social following or because he thinks it will make him famous. He does it because he LOVES music. Love is the underlying power source, and sadly this puts him in a tiny minority in the photography world. Brands who partner with social stars never seem to understand the hollow feeling the viewer gets knowing the photographer is just playing a part. When you see a brand partner with someone who is invested in the subject matter, at a DNA level, it is instantly apparent and leave the viewer wanting more. Kudos to the folks at Fuji for featuring a working photographer who speaks to images more than kit.
Great post and kudos to Fujis approach , but most importantly to Fleming. His passion is there in every photograph.
Thank you Mark, really happy to hear that!
Thank you for featuring the movie Daniel, and all those nice words about it and me 🙂 Correction though, I can only quote scenes from the original Star Wars Trilogy (some might say the only Star Wars movies made!) but those scene reenactments are available anywhere, a boat on the Amazon river included!
If anyone wants to see more stills from the concert featured in the movie, I have a big photo essay here on my site:
Dan, I don’t know Mr Jansen’s work and don’t disagree with anything you’ve said about him. But his images you’ve shown here aren’t exceptional.
I would assume you have visited his site to see the work and the books? To each his own but I find quite a few keepers.
I’ve only seen these images. I expect much of his work must be keepers.
Have seen a few of Flemming’s videos for/with Fuji. Always enjoy them. The emphasis is on the work.
Music photography is greatly satisfying. I’ve shot many musicians, performing and posing over the years. It’s a little like sports photography; anticipation and being in the right place. There’s rarely going to be ‘exceptional’ pictures from concert photography, it’s depends a great deal on the light show, costume and all important access. Most bands and performers are now tightly controlled by a forest of minders. Often their management have photo approval, which means they get to see all the shots and delete the ones they don’t like, or more significantly, don’t make the artist look amazing. Usually, as a press photographer you get to shoot the first three numbers of the gig, then you’re out. It’s rarely the same as it was when Annie Leibovitz could just snap away in the Stone’s dressing room while they snorted Jack Daniels and smoked the Bourbon. Digital cameras have made life much easier, as light levels are low and a decent shutter speed is almost always needed. However, the punk scene of the ’70’s was perfect for heavy grained black and white. Anton Corbijn is legendary in his music photography of the 80’s and early 90’s- all black and white, often lith printed rawness. Kudos to Flemming for his dedication to music photography, his passion ( a much overused word in photography) and… I love it that he’s pretty rock n roll too.
I’ve shot music as well. From Sinatra to hard rock. First three song kind of thing, although I once got to spend three days, one and off, with the Grateful Dead. But what is different about Flemming is that he has something like the book on Minds of 99. Those images are WAY more intimate. I was fortunate to live in LA for several years. I met Claxton and Marshall and some of the legends who had real relationships with the artists. Those, frankly, are the only artists I’m interested in. Anyone who would control what a photographer makes is is a total ass in my book and probably not someone I want to listen to. One creative telling another creative what to do. If that ain’t the sign of modern times.
Saw this video. Absolutely loved how they (Fujifilm) focuses less on the tool and more on the craft of the photographer. Their mantras for each camera body when they are initially released really focus on the art of what they do.